This super quick and easy classic marinara sauce takes twenty minutes to make, and uses pantry staples that you probably have on hand now. Great for a weeknight meal with pasta, pizza or spaghetti squash!
How are we all doing this fine Monday morning? I think today is like the Monday blues x 1000 because we just partied for like a month and now we have to get serious and be grown ups and eat vegetables and exercise and stuff. Also is anyone else binging on Making a Murderer? Because we watched like 5 episodes yesterday and then I had a fitful sleep where I was kind of dreaming about it? So, needless to say, I need an extra cup or two of coffee today.
Speaking of being grownups and eating vegetables, I’m betting that a bunch of you have plans to eat better food, cook at home more, and maybe even meal plan. I’ve talked about meal planning before, and why I think it is really helpful. I also like to have some quick and easy recipes in my repertoire, because after a long day I often don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. One thing that I pull out of my back pocket again and again is this quick and easy 20 minute marinara sauce.
I make this for everything. I use it on pasta, as a pizza sauce, or like last night, with some meatballs and spaghetti squash.
I didn’t discover the magic that is crushed tomatoes until a few years ago. Before that, I always bought pasta sauce in jars. I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to make it myself, because I thought it was this long, drawn out process that took hours. Now, let’s be clear, this is not your Italian grandmother’s, simmering on the stove all day red sauce. There is a time and a place for that, and it is delicious. But usually I need a marinara sauce RIGHT NOW because I am about to make dinner and I don’t have time to wait around. This is where the magic crushed tomatoes come in. If you have never cooked with them, you will be amazed. Throw them in a pot with some garlic and herbs, and in no time you have a rich sauce that will elevate your dinner to the next level. After making my own sauce, I have NEVER ONCE bought jarred marinara sauce ever again.
I can make this even without planning ahead, which is great news for those nights where you didn’t even think about what you were going to have for dinner until…dinnertime.
I usually keep a can or two of crushed tomatoes in my pantry, and the herbs and garlic I always have on hand as well. So I can make this even without planning ahead, which is great news for those nights where you didn’t even think about what you were going to have for dinner until…dinnertime. Use your favorite brand of crushed tomatoes. I like to use San Marzanos sometimes, even though they are a little more expensive, but sometimes I just use whatever is on sale at the store. If you don’t know what brands you like, try a few! I do find that it makes a difference, and since this sauce has so few ingredients, the tomatoes you use are going to really impact the taste of the sauce.
Easy Twenty Minute Classic Marinara Sauce
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves pressed or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1-2 bay leaves
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Place oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a cold medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the garlic becomes fragrant and just starts to sizzle, being careful not to let the garlic brown, about 1 minute.
- Pour the tomatoes into the pan, add oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If the sauce is bubbling too much, reduce heat further.
- Remove from heat, and remove bay leaves before serving.
This does freeze well. I usually freeze it in a mason jar.
How are you adjusting to January? Are you on a resolution plan, or are you just sticking to your regular routine?
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I absolutely love this sauce. No more store bought EVER! So easy and much better for you. Sometimes I will cook some sausage for my husband to add to his but I love it just the way it is. Thank you for such a great recipe!
Can you post the nutritional info? Maybe I’ve missed it, but I can’t seem to see it when I connect from Pinterest.
Hi Sunny – I have updated it with the nutrition info, hope that helps!
Hi I just bought a case of San Marzano whole tomatoes my question is can I use them in this recipe if they are not crushed?
Hi Suzanne – yes it will, you will just need to crush them either with a wooden spoon while cooking or you can blend them in a food processor before cooking.
Kathleen Haeuptle says
I’m so glad that I saved this recipe on Pinterest! Wanted something quick and easy and remembered this. I have used this mainly on pasta. It’s really good, flavorful and simple to make. I used 3 whole garlic cloves and add either my frozen basil from my garden or dried to taste.
I’m so glad you love it Kathleen!
We like a little sweeter marina sauce. Can you recommend how much sugar to add to make it a bit sweeter. I haven’t tried it yet.
Hi Penny – I’ve never added sugar, generally I feel this doesn’t need it as the tomatoes have enough sweetness on their own. If you want to add sugar, I would start with 1 or 2 teaspoons and then you can add more or adjust to taste if you want more sweetness.
Bernadette Angle says
Sorry, but I had to really doctor this up to give it any taste. It was bland and very acidic.
Hmm, that hasn’t been my experience. Here are a few tips for next time: Be sure to use high quality crushed tomatoes, Since this is a simple sauce, the quality of ingredients are very important. Good quality tomatoes should not be so acidic or need sugar added. I prefer San Marzano tomatoes. Also be sure to use the right amount of salt. A bland sauce often means you didn’t use enough salt. Hope that helps.
Use parsley stems in the sauce. Tie up some parsley stems (about 10) and simmer in the sauce. Take stems out before serving. We
Can you tell me how I could make this with fresh tomatoes? I have several I need to use up
Hi Erin – Making this from fresh tomatoes will be a more involved process. I’ve never tried it before, so I can’t say for sure. You will need to peel and cook the tomatoes first (as the canned crushed tomatoes have already been through that process). I would suggest looking up some recipes for tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. For this recipe you would need about 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes.
I had never made homemade marinara before and this sauce was so amazing!! Didn’t have any bay leaves so I substituted 1 tsp of thyme and it was perfect. I will definitely be adding this one to my rotation 🙂
I’m so happy you liked it, thanks Michelle!
Love this marinara! So flavorful. Making today for dipping cheesy breadsticks and fried ravioli. Perfect for dipping. I have frozen it in a mason jar, just don’t fill it full.
I’m so happy that you love it! Thank you Debora!
judith judge says
i was wondering if freezeing the mason jars is it possibel they could break from the freezeing?
Hi Judith – I have frozen them before with no problems. Be sure you are using mason jars that are made for canning (not reusing jars from store bought things). You also should be careful about extreme temperature changes (don’t but the jar with hot sauce into the freezer, or take it out of the freezer and put in hot water). There is also a “fill line” on mason jars. Be sure not to go over that line, as the sauce will expand when frozen and if it is too full the jar can break. Of course, there is always a chance the jar could have a flaw in the glass, which would make it weak and possibly cause it to break. But I personally have not had that issue. I hope that helps!
Thanks so much for this recipe. I am very interested in what type of mason jars you use so they do not crack. Thanks again.
Hi JoAnn – I use Ball mason jars. It sounds like you may be planning on canning. I haven’t done that with this recipe so I can’t speak to that, but I believe they are a reputable brand and I haven’t heard of any problems with them!
What about canning and storing instead of freezing it? We always have a TON of tomatoes from our garden,looking for more canning ideas?
Hi, I’ve never canned this so I can’t give any advice on that unfortunately!
We added red peppers, onions, and garlic scapes, all diced. Love this recipe!
Hi Dee – I love those additions! The garlic scapes especially sound amazing!
This sauce is delicious. I just finished making this (multiplying everything by 10 and adding some ground beef) to serve at a banquet tomorrow night. I’m sure it will be a hit!
Yay, that is awesome! I hope everyone loved it!
I’m definitely going to try this recipe. I used to by a jarred sauce from a famous chef but his recent behavior put me off. Besi homemade is always best. The recipe says it serves 12. Any idea how many cups that is? Just to know for use in other recipes. Thanks!!!
Hi Olivia – I hope you love the sauce. I love it more than store bought sauces for sure. The final amount will vary a bit depending on the exact brands you use and the amount of time it spends simmering. It makes roughly 2.5-3 cups – I estimated about 1/4 cup per serving to come up with the 12. Usually when I make this I use all of it for a pasta dish – so if you want to use a whole, 1 pound box of pasta you will probably want to use all the sauce. If I use it for a pizza sauce I use about half of it. Hope that helps!
Wow. OK so I just made this because I had everything on hand and haven’t gone to the store in forever. I could eat this with a spoon right out of the pot it’s so good! So simple to make! Thank you!
I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks Lori!
I currently only have diced tomatoes. Can I make this work for this?
Hi Shannon – it will work, you will probably need to blend up the sauce in a blender or food processor. Canned diced tomatoes almost always have an additive to keep them from breaking down, so your sauce will probably be a little more chunky, but they will do in a pinch. It is better with the crushed tomatoes though so I hope you give that a try next time! Let me know how it turns out!
Wow how simple and tasty this marinara turned out. Will be coming back to it when tomatoe harvest comes in. Thanks for this recipe.
So glad to hear that Esperanza!
Carolyn Ingram says
I’ve never tried making homemade sauce! I will have to try this recipe!
Liren | kitchen confidante says
There’s nothing better than homemade!!
Art from my Table says
Only 20 minutes?! Why would I ever buy the jarred stuff!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
Love, love, love homemade marinara sauce!!
Sounds great! Can you can this recipe? If so, how long do I do it for?
Hi Brian – I have never canned it so I’m not sure. I’m not a canning expert so I can’t be much help there. I do sometimes freeze it, which works well.
Nancy Andres says
Saw this post on the Share the Wealth Pinterest Board and it looks and sounds delicious. I’ll give it a try! Nancy Andres
Hi Nancy! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you love the marinara sauce!
OMGeezy this is an amazing recipe! I work as a crew cook on a ranch and I made this with you recipe as a base shredded down some over ripe tomatoes that I had added a little bit of sugar and the crowd went nuts! I added italian sausage and mushrooms and used some of it for zucchini fry dip and the whole pot was gone by the end of the night!
Oh yay, Nina! I am so glad you all loved it, and those additions sound AMAZING!
Rachel @ Bakerita says
I’m all about how quick and simple this is – I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe for next time a craving hits for marinara sauce! Looks amazing.
Thanks Rachel! I do love a quick and simple dinner when possible, as long as it tastes great!
I would never buy marinara sauce either, it is so easy to make and you can always taste the difference. I usually make a large batch of sauce and can it like I would do with jam. It keeps very well.
So much better, right?
I just love the Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos!!! I am madly in love with shrimp!!And your dish loos amazing ! I will surely try this yummy recipe for my lovely family!!!Happy New Year!!!
Thank you Lisa!
My Dish is Bomb says
I think I was in my twenties before I realized that marinara sauce can be made at home and tastes 1000x better. Love easy recipes like this and especially when you don’t need to go out to buy extra ingredients!
It is so amazing when that happens! Thanks Katy!
Melanie @ Melanie Cooks says
Homemade marinara sauce is so delicious, it’s just so much better than store-bought! It’s so great that it can be put together in just 20 minutes – it’s so quick and easy that there is no excuse for not making one!
Thank you Melanie! Homemade is almost always better, and it is my favorite when it is quick and easy 🙂
I’m a big believer in crushed tomatoes, I buy the fancy Italian kind and they work wonders…now I need to go pin those killer shrimp tacos…
Yes, the fancy Italian ones are the best, I am always amazed at how good they are! Thank you for the pin Sue!
Lisa @ Chocolate Meets Strawberry says
To this sauce I say YES! I make my own sauce too…most of the time, that is! I must admit that lately I’ve been a bit slack, and this post is encouraging me get back into it! Our little trick in this house is to add a teaspoon of sugar to it, which really just sets it off (albeit in a tooth-destroying, diabetes-inducing kind of way). Oh and can we talk about your impeccable mason jar presentation of this sauce for just a moment? Love, love, LOVE. I am completely obsessed with mason jars (and all types of bottles and jars in general) and have SO many of them. I lately had to move my collection from our kitchen cupboard to one of our hallway cupboards because the mister was trying to throw some of them out, and using all sorts of tactics to convince me there were too many of them!! Anyway, the main point here being, your mason jar photoshoot is gorgeous, Meghan!
Thank you so much Lisa! I do have quite a few mason jars hanging around, most of them are from our wedding! I probably need to reduce them a little bit, but I do find these so useful, I store almost everything in them, and also occasionally use them as drinking glasses 🙂 Also, so funny about the sugar – my husband always asks me if I added sugar to the sauce but I never do – the sweetness of the tomatoes really seems to shine through to him. I have seen lots of recipes that do that, I think it might depend on the type of tomatoes that are used.
Sounds like something I can try soon!
Yay, I hope you like it!
Lynn Anderson says
I for one am feeling great this Monday after the indulgent month of Dec. It’s a fresh start to a new year; getting back on track with THRIVE and going to the Y. So, even though I had too many sweets, too much Mexican food, ate when I wasn’t hungry and wasn’t working out much, today I feel good. The hard part is to keep it up!
Thanks for this recipe too! Since I live alone it’s always nice to have something quick and easy to prepare.
FYI: your cranberry pecan shortbread cookies were a real hit. Do you have anymore shortbread type cookie recipes to share. After all, momma’s little baby loves shortbread :).
Awesome, Lynn! I am thrilled that you loved the cookies! I did have at least one shortbread cookie recipe rolling around, but I wasn’t going to share it until next Christmas! So I will get to working on one I can share before then 🙂 Also, I am glad you feel great! We should enjoy the fun and food that we had during the holidays, even as we enjoy getting back to a more regular routine. Thank you so much for your comment and for reading!
Izzy @ she likes food says
The sound of meal planning sounds wonderful but for some reason I just can’t get myself to do it! Usually I’m stopping at the store on my way home from work and it kinda sucks so maybe I need to start meal planning! My husband is trying to eat less salt so I’ve been wanting to start making my own marinara sauce! Perfect timing, haha! I bet homemade is so much better than the bottled stuff anyway 🙂
I will admit that I have been slacking in the meal planning department, but I am always MUCH happier when I do it. It is a little extra work once a week but saves loads of time (and stress) later on. The homemade stuff is so much better than store bought! Let me know if you try it! 🙂
Jess @ Sweetest Menu says
This is fantastic! What a great idea to make your own. It’s always more fresh and flavourful that way. I love that this sauce is so versatile too! Pizza, pasta – yum! Bookmarking to try!
Thank you Jess! I do find that homemade is usually tastier, and I especially like when it is simple! I hope you love it!
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen says
Isn’t it amazing how good and simple homemade marinara is, Meghan. So many uses and the smell is heavenly too! I just finished Making a Murderer – love a good murder documentary. Have you seen “The Staircase” – that’s really fascinating and great!
I haven’t seen “The Staircase”, I will have to put it on my list! And yes, the marinara sauce always kind of surprises me, that it can be so simple and so good! Thank you Geraldine, Happy New year!